As a tutor you learn a lot about a student – how they approach a problem, what they do when they aren’t certain, and what they do when they don’t know an answer.
These things can tell you a lot about their attitude towards school and their levels of achievement, even without seeing a transcript.
I personally think one of the greatest indicators of a student’s success at school is the level of confidence they have in themselves. Confidence that they can produce good quality work, and get the answers right.
As you may be able to guess, students who do well at school tend to have much greater confidence in themselves than the students who don’t.
The sense of confidence will override any feeling of being overwhelmed, and will reinforce a student’s focus and their determination to do well. Confidence will also help overcome the destructive practice of second-guessing.
With confidence comes pride. And pride in your work at school is a great thing. It breeds positive feelings about school, and reinforces the idea that doing well is possible.
A lack of confidence is destructive
Students who struggle at school, whether or not they appear to care, have no confidence in what they’re doing. They don’t think they’re capable of doing well at school, and don’t believe they ever could be.
These feelings will trigger even more negative thoughts, which will diminish the want to try, which only propagates the idea that they’re bad at school!
Even students who normally do quite well can suffer from lack of confidence. This normally results in second-guessing their own answers, or not even attempting to answer in case they’re wrong.
How can we change this?
Confidence at school is built on a student’s self-esteem. It’s important that both parents and teachers work to ensure that a student believes in themselves, and believes they can achieve. Once a supportive environment is built, students must receive meaningful feedback, and be able to track their own achievement.
I personally believe that academic achievement, particularly at high school, is attainable by anyone – provided they want to, they believe they can, and they use study habits that work for them. If every student believed that too, we’d have much more motivated students.
Once the belief that they can achieve has been established, all that’s required is practice, practice, practice. It’s much easier to convince someone they should study when they have the confidence that they can do well!